Author Topic: Getting closer to FIRE, but hoping for tips about how I draw down/reallocate?  (Read 2161 times)

tasimo

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Hey folks!  I've been lurking here and appreciate all the background and guidance here.  It's been motivating to be more proactive about setting an end date and the process.  My current plan is to retire in 3 years.

I'm in the medical field, and am getting pretty burned out.  The fear I have is if I'm wrong I think it would be hard to have a break of a few years and reinstate licensing, and feel like a good clinician after a long hiatus.  I think the simple numbers make sense for me to be OK, but the unknowns of pricey future child education and a current messy allocation are my worries. 

Briefly, i'm a 42yo M, married with 2 kids (5&9) in NE US, somewhat HCOL area, currently making $300k/yr.  We own our cars, only debt is mortgage (10yrs left on a 15y at 2.75%), and a small solar panel loan with about 5y left at 1.9%.  We currently have a budget of around $120k/yr, the rest post tax has gone towards savings.  I think we could reduce our budget a bit in retirement, as disability insurance for me is pricey and I wouldn't need that anymore. 

NW consists of:

$1.05m - in roth 401k (indexed, vanguard target date retirement fund)
$200k - in backdoor roths for wife and myself (vti, some blue chip stocks)
$100k - HSA (VTI)
$550k - brokerage acct (100k money market fund, rest VTI/international indexed approx 60/40%)
$70k - cash
$400k - various syndicated real estate
$500k - crypto

$600k - equity in home, but I don't think I count this?

So without the equity, NW comes out to about $2.87m.  My plan was to work for 3 more years and have enough for $125k/yr at 4% drawdown.  I've been fortunate with how it's grown but a lot of it I don't feel I can touch in the short-term, so worry about how I go about balancing this and selectively drawing.

The syndicated real estate is across 5 or 6 projects, that have been lucrative but have varying time frames.  A few had variable rates and have new hurdles due to current interest rates, so might be pushed off for up to 5-10yrs to finish and sell.  One of them ($100k) is an OZF, so the money is frozen there but gains tax free for 8 more years. 

The crypto is an uncomfortably high percentage, but i've been selling it slowly over time and plan to continue to do so; the problem is it's expensive to exit with its low cost basis as it realizes gains.  My thought was my first year post retirement I could be at a lower income and reduce this drastically, using that for the first few years. 

The brokerage isn't as much as i'd like, as that's where I'd imagine we do most of our living off of until we get a bit older.  From age 45-65 is a long time before dipping into the 401k/roths.  I had read some about drawing from 401ks earlier without penalties but didn't really understand exactly how that worked.

I know we're fortunate and will have enough to survive but hope to maintain a comfortable life without a chance of having to go back to workforce if possible.  I'd like to not have taxes and fees eat it all up before age 65. 

Thanks for reading, appreciate your thoughts!

maizefolk

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Do you know how much of the balance of your Roth 401k is contributions vs earnings?

My understanding is that when you roll the balance of Roth 401k into a Roth IRA you inherit the same split between contributions and earnings as in the Roth 401k. Double check this with an expert (you may get one commenting in this thread, we have a few people who work or worked in accounting and tax law professionally) but I believe you should be able to access the contributions proportion of the $1.05M Roth 401k relatively easily in retirement, although you would need to convert it to an IRA first. The backdoor Roth IRAs should be even easier, but same principle. You can withdraw and spend your contributions without penalty at any time, but the earnings probably need to wait until you hit 59.5.

Liquidating a good chunk of the crypto each year starting the first year of retirement sounds like a good plan. Whatever else people say, positive of negative, it's a high volatility bet. One you've hit your number, the upside potential of crypto isn't that valuable to you, and the downside is substantial, so good to spend it out first. If you have zero outside income, probably you'll have some which would reduce this number, I believe you should be able to realize up to $29,200 (MFJ standard deduction)+$94,050 (MSJ 0% long term capital gains tax bracket) = $123,250 of capital gains/year before you start incurring federal* tax liability.

*Most states have less favorable tax treatment for capital gains, so you'll likely owe some there.

lhamo

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Do you know how much of the balance of your Roth 401k is contributions vs earnings?

My understanding is that when you roll the balance of Roth 401k into a Roth IRA you inherit the same split between contributions and earnings as in the Roth 401k. Double check this with an expert (you may get one commenting in this thread, we have a few people who work or worked in accounting and tax law professionally) but I believe you should be able to access the contributions proportion of the $1.05M Roth 401k relatively easily in retirement, although you would need to convert it to an IRA first. The backdoor Roth IRAs should be even easier, but same principle. You can withdraw and spend your contributions without penalty at any time, but the earnings probably need to wait until you hit 59.5.


Not a tax expert, but this was my experience with a Roth 403b that I rolled to a Roth IRA after I stopped working.  Was curious about it so I dug up the original tax forms earlier this week -- the rollover should show up on a Form 1099-R and the cumulative contribution amounts will appear in box 5 (unless the forms have changed significantly since 2015 when I did my rollover).

I did a small withdrawal from my rollover account earlier this year when I was trying to set up a cash-out re-fi and needed to manufacture income, and looking at the Vanguard forms associated with that withdrawal they assigned it to my contribution amounts, so at least in my case it all seems to be working as it should.  I also have much greater peace of mind knowing I have 100k+ in Roth contributions in that account I can still tap without penalty before age 59.5, should I need to do so.  Obviously I will try to avoid that, as it is much better for the money to continue to grow tax free, but it does serve as a backstop emergency fund as I navigate the last 5 years of my journey to being able to more readily access my large retirement stash.

tasimo

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Do you know how much of the balance of your Roth 401k is contributions vs earnings?

My understanding is that when you roll the balance of Roth 401k into a Roth IRA you inherit the same split between contributions and earnings as in the Roth 401k. Double check this with an expert (you may get one commenting in this thread, we have a few people who work or worked in accounting and tax law professionally) but I believe you should be able to access the contributions proportion of the $1.05M Roth 401k relatively easily in retirement, although you would need to convert it to an IRA first. The backdoor Roth IRAs should be even easier, but same principle. You can withdraw and spend your contributions without penalty at any time, but the earnings probably need to wait until you hit 59.5.

Liquidating a good chunk of the crypto each year starting the first year of retirement sounds like a good plan. Whatever else people say, positive of negative, it's a high volatility bet. One you've hit your number, the upside potential of crypto isn't that valuable to you, and the downside is substantial, so good to spend it out first. If you have zero outside income, probably you'll have some which would reduce this number, I believe you should be able to realize up to $29,200 (MFJ standard deduction)+$94,050 (MSJ 0% long term capital gains tax bracket) = $123,250 of capital gains/year before you start incurring federal* tax liability.

*Most states have less favorable tax treatment for capital gains, so you'll likely owe some there.

Thanks, this is so helpful. 

The Roth 401k contributions are $660k, so that's a lot I could potentially tap into if it's usable early.  I'll have to read up into how conversion into a Roth IRA works.  I believe the backdoor Roths I have are similar in that it's about 60% as contributions and 40% unrealized gains. 

I'm glad you agree on the crypto thoughts.  You're right that my state also has some capital gains for it but my target draw of $125k is just about perfect for at least avoiding federal gains if I use solely crypto for a few years.  That's a great perspective that at this point there's minimal upside to holding as I'm close to target, and a lot of downside, it will be a helpful thought process to keep me steady on the course.  The plans seem great on paper but emotions might affect execution. 

Shuchong

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I'm in the medical field, and am getting pretty burned out.  The fear I have is if I'm wrong I think it would be hard to have a break of a few years and reinstate licensing, and feel like a good clinician after a long hiatus.  I think the simple numbers make sense for me to be OK, but the unknowns of pricey future child education and a current messy allocation are my worries. 

***

So without the equity, NW comes out to about $2.87m.  My plan was to work for 3 more years and have enough for $125k/yr at 4% drawdown.  I've been fortunate with how it's grown but a lot of it I don't feel I can touch in the short-term, so worry about how I go about balancing this and selectively drawing.

Your numbers look good to me, but have you considered going part-time or doing locum work? 

If you're burnt out, 3 years is a long time (though I've heard that having an exit plan is really helpful psychologically for some people.)

If you halve your income, it's still enough to live on (more or less, depending upon taxes), and you can let your stash grow, do more crypto exiting whilst avoiding the highest tax brackets, keep your licensing and skills current, wait for more liquidity from the real estate deals, and have more time to spend with the kiddos while the 9 year old still thinks you're cool.  Plus, your mortgage is going to go away in 10 years: depending on how large it is, that could really affect your ongoing expenses and how much you have to pull from your portfolio each year. 

(Full disclosure: I work part-time and it is the sweet spot for me -- I like it better than no work, since it gives me some structure and meaning.  So I'm biased towards this option.  There's a "Calling all Downshifters" thread you can explore for more stories -- https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/calling-all-downshifters!/300/)


tasimo

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I'm in the medical field, and am getting pretty burned out.  The fear I have is if I'm wrong I think it would be hard to have a break of a few years and reinstate licensing, and feel like a good clinician after a long hiatus.  I think the simple numbers make sense for me to be OK, but the unknowns of pricey future child education and a current messy allocation are my worries. 

***

So without the equity, NW comes out to about $2.87m.  My plan was to work for 3 more years and have enough for $125k/yr at 4% drawdown.  I've been fortunate with how it's grown but a lot of it I don't feel I can touch in the short-term, so worry about how I go about balancing this and selectively drawing.

Your numbers look good to me, but have you considered going part-time or doing locum work? 

If you're burnt out, 3 years is a long time (though I've heard that having an exit plan is really helpful psychologically for some people.)

If you halve your income, it's still enough to live on (more or less, depending upon taxes), and you can let your stash grow, do more crypto exiting whilst avoiding the highest tax brackets, keep your licensing and skills current, wait for more liquidity from the real estate deals, and have more time to spend with the kiddos while the 9 year old still thinks you're cool.  Plus, your mortgage is going to go away in 10 years: depending on how large it is, that could really affect your ongoing expenses and how much you have to pull from your portfolio each year. 

(Full disclosure: I work part-time and it is the sweet spot for me -- I like it better than no work, since it gives me some structure and meaning.  So I'm biased towards this option.  There's a "Calling all Downshifters" thread you can explore for more stories -- https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/calling-all-downshifters!/300/)



Thanks, yes this is a consideration.  To give some further back story, I've been cutting down, from a salary of $350k/yr to a bit under $300k/yr, I'm at the minimum of what my group considers full-time.  Further hours would affect my employer side retirement contribution, which is a big perk of where I work, also it might affect my insurance.  The other thing I've noticed is that being more burned out in medicine, I'm not doing as much medicine stuff with my free time.  So I have guilt when I have a lot of time off, feeling like I'm a less capable physician.  It's amazing you can have ongoing imposter syndrome even practicing for 15+ years, with likely 40k patient visits under your belt.  If I went down on hours I think it would have to be somewhere else, or something non-clinical.  I had also considered a year sabbatical, as a colleague had and had the position held. 

You're right though that just writing out loud a target date and spending more time here, on livingafi blog, on some recommended books is making it easier.  Having you guys make sure I'm not crazy and that the numbers work helps too.  It's cathartic being on a horrible shift and daydreaming that one last straw and I could just say I'm done and be OK.   

There's a lot of info here, I appreciate you pointing out that thread, it's overwhelming trying to catch up on a decade+ of this forum!

clifp

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Financially, It seems like you are in good shape. I'd say great except you have kids, I don't have them but I know they can be very expensive.   The good news is your wealth is diversified and your retirement is in Roth, which makes it much easier to get access to money, before you are 59.5.  That said I retired back in 2000 also with 3 million  and I while I've almost never worried about money, during the great recession I was glad I didn't try it with $2 million or less.

 
You didn't mention your spouse, is she employed?  If not how does she feel about having your around the house all day long?  Do you have any specific plans with respect to the kids, homeschool them, take them on a trip around the world?

Personally, I'd seriously consider a sabbatical of 3-12 months if that's an option, not so much for the finances but more for the psychological reasons. In my experience doctors are one of the top 10 professions that I find failing retirement   So much of most doctors' ego is tied up in being a physician it can be hard to walk away.    I guess my real question is do you have plan as to what you want to do in retirment?


tasimo

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Financially, It seems like you are in good shape. I'd say great except you have kids, I don't have them but I know they can be very expensive.   The good news is your wealth is diversified and your retirement is in Roth, which makes it much easier to get access to money, before you are 59.5.  That said I retired back in 2000 also with 3 million  and I while I've almost never worried about money, during the great recession I was glad I didn't try it with $2 million or less.

 
You didn't mention your spouse, is she employed?  If not how does she feel about having your around the house all day long?  Do you have any specific plans with respect to the kids, homeschool them, take them on a trip around the world?

Personally, I'd seriously consider a sabbatical of 3-12 months if that's an option, not so much for the finances but more for the psychological reasons. In my experience doctors are one of the top 10 professions that I find failing retirement   So much of most doctors' ego is tied up in being a physician it can be hard to walk away.    I guess my real question is do you have plan as to what you want to do in retirment?

Yes, the kids are my biggest fear too!  We're in a good public school district, so don't anticipate changing any time soon.  They're young, so it's hard to know but if one had a better fit at a private school or needed more than we expected I'd want to factor in some buffer.  One has an IEP and has some additional needs, I don't know yet if that will translate to more unexpected costs down the road.  I love hiking with them, participating in their athletics, doing crafts and projects; I'm also most excited about the prospect of FIRE to really have no barrier to being a bigger part of their lives now.  I do worry about how retirement looks for modeling behavior for them at a young age. 

My wife and I have been together a long time, and I'm thrilled to say we can spend long stretches with each other without going crazy.  We share similar hobbies and have a good marriage I think.  She's not currently employed, and is taking a few years until both kids are school aged and then would consider re-entering work, but it would be as a teacher with a lower salary. 

 I do like being a physician, and I think I'm a good one.  I legitimately save people from time to time and when those cases happen it fuels me for months.  It's a bit deep for the scope of this post, but there's a lot about medicine that drives me crazy and I come home angry more often than not.  I see worse patient care then a decade ago because of the inefficiencies and cost-cutting of the system, lack of access to care, scope creep among other hospital staff and private equity's fingers in everything.  All while my patients hate me for waiting 8 hours to be seen.  I say "i'm sorry" to patients for 100 things a shift that are really out of my control, and the bad things that happen are still my liability.  I'd love to continue to work and see patients, explain their care plan, and not spend most of my time documenting at length on a computer to check all the boxes so insurance actually reimburses, dealing with administrators unreasonable demands while they don't have a single shift with a full nursing/tech assignment, and medicolegal fear.   It feels like the stress and negativity is taking years off my life.  Aaanyways, that's probably more than you asked for :)

Hopefully this burst of motivation for FIRE will get me looking more at my options. I'm leaning to a sabbatical as well as it is an option, perhaps that extra time would help me focus more on finding those next steps. 


Shuchong

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I'm leaning to a sabbatical as well as it is an option, perhaps that extra time would help me focus more on finding those next steps. 


Sounds like a great option!  Perhaps you can set it up so that it starts during summer break, that way you have max time with the kids and can do longer trips/hikes.  It's also a great way to test out FIRE.  And to decompress from the frustrations of your job and start envisioning if there are ways you can make it better.  (I've heard from many friends and family that medicine can be super frustrating these days -- and actually just had a specialist that I see leave a well-known hospital to open her own practice for reasons similar to what you've listed, so you have my sympathies.)

I would take at least six months if your job will allow that.  3 sounds like a lot, but my experience of leave was that it went by really quickly.     

clifp

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 I do like being a physician, and I think I'm a good one.  I legitimately save people from time to time and when those cases happen it fuels me for months.  It's a bit deep for the scope of this post, but there's a lot about medicine that drives me crazy and I come home angry more often than not.  I see worse patient care then a decade ago because of the inefficiencies and cost-cutting of the system, lack of access to care, scope creep among other hospital staff and private equity's fingers in everything.  All while my patients hate me for waiting 8 hours to be seen.  I say "i'm sorry" to patients for 100 things a shift that are really out of my control, and the bad things that happen are still my liability.  I'd love to continue to work and see patients, explain their care plan, and not spend most of my time documenting at length on a computer to check all the boxes so insurance actually reimburses, dealing with administrators unreasonable demands while they don't have a single shift with a full nursing/tech assignment, and medicolegal fear.   It feels like the stress and negativity is taking years off my life.  Aaanyways, that's probably more than you asked for :)

Hopefully this burst of motivation for FIRE will get me looking more at my options. I'm leaning to a sabbatical as well as it is an option, perhaps that extra time would help me focus more on finding those next steps.

No, sir, that was exactly what I was looking for.  My diagnosis is that you have the most common symptom of fiRE. Namely, the BS factor of your job exceeds the good portions of the job. Until, you achieve FI, the rationale was straightforward, I'm getting paid great money, and sometimes I save lives, so I put with the BS.  Now that you are  FIre and well on your way to Fat FIRE, the allure of the paycheck has dwindled.

Before I retired at 39, I worked at Intel.  I had a moderately important job, at a very important company, a world without microprocessors that get faster and cheaper every year is a very different world. Intel had an amazing CEO, and I generally had good bosses.  I have said this many times.  "My most fulfilling weeks were when I was working, but also my worst months were working.  So I'm willing to sacrifice the bad weeks to avoid the awful months.. Now, most folks in the FIRE world agree with this statement.  But plenty of people don't. They weren't fortunate enough to have a  job that felt like anything more than a paycheck, had bad bosses, they never respected the CEO. The company was never special. think of a regional bank or a retailer. For them, retirement has always been big improvement in their quality.  But there is also a group of folks we don't see much on these forums.   These are people who found meaning and purpose through work, maybe at age 70 they were medical reasons they couldn't work anymore, and they reluctantly retired.  They think retiring in your 40s is crazy.   I'm going to say something that is going to be very unpopular they may have a point

"I legitimately save people from time to time and when those cases happen it fuels me for months.".   First, I'm envious of you and all the first responders who are in a similar situation.   Saving a person's life is a big fucking deal. It is going to be very hard to find that sense of accomplishment in retirement.  Although there are certainly volunteer opportunities for doctors that regular folks don't have.

All that being said, it is clear to me from that paragraph, that you are at or near the burnout point.  So you do need to do something.  I'm not going to argue with a doctor who says the stress is taking years off your life.

evme

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I do like being a physician, and I think I'm a good one.  I legitimately save people from time to time and when those cases happen it fuels me for months.  It's a bit deep for the scope of this post, but there's a lot about medicine that drives me crazy and I come home angry more often than not.  I see worse patient care then a decade ago because of the inefficiencies and cost-cutting of the system, lack of access to care, scope creep among other hospital staff and private equity's fingers in everything.  All while my patients hate me for waiting 8 hours to be seen.  I say "i'm sorry" to patients for 100 things a shift that are really out of my control, and the bad things that happen are still my liability.  I'd love to continue to work and see patients, explain their care plan, and not spend most of my time documenting at length on a computer to check all the boxes so insurance actually reimburses, dealing with administrators unreasonable demands while they don't have a single shift with a full nursing/tech assignment, and medicolegal fear.   It feels like the stress and negativity is taking years off my life.

Are you a Primary Care Physician? I'm just asking because I, as a patient, have gone over to the Direct Primary Care model and like it much better. My doctor seems much happier and less stressed, too.

Shuchong

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Before I retired at 39, I worked at Intel.  I had a moderately important job, at a very important company, a world without microprocessors that get faster and cheaper every year is a very different world. Intel had an amazing CEO, and I generally had good bosses.  I have said this many times.  "My most fulfilling weeks were when I was working, but also my worst months were working.  So I'm willing to sacrifice the bad weeks to avoid the awful months.. Now, most folks in the FIRE world agree with this statement.  But plenty of people don't. They weren't fortunate enough to have a  job that felt like anything more than a paycheck, had bad bosses, they never respected the CEO. The company was never special. think of a regional bank or a retailer. For them, retirement has always been big improvement in their quality.  But there is also a group of folks we don't see much on these forums.   These are people who found meaning and purpose through work, maybe at age 70 they were medical reasons they couldn't work anymore, and they reluctantly retired.  They think retiring in your 40s is crazy.   I'm going to say something that is going to be very unpopular they may have a point


This is an excellent point, and another reason to go part-time or sabbatical before full-on quitting.  I had health issues in my 30s instead of 70s, was on medical leave for over six months, then went back part-time.  I too get satisfaction and meaning from work that I have been unable to replicate elsewhere.  Part of it is the "this will have been fun" aspect: I would never choose to stay up until 3am working on something that needs to go out tomorrow but that was thrown in my lap two days ago, but doing tough things under time pressure and doing them well is its own sort of pleasure. Part of it is that on good days I experience a lot of flow in my job.  Part of it is having dedicated and whip-smart colleagues.  Part of it is a character flaw in me: I am naturally a lump -- more motivated by other people and not wanting to let them down than a self-starter.  If I am doing a thing just for me, meh. 

When I ill and unable to keep up at work, I fantasized about quitting and just being FIREd.  But when I actually had six months of free time I found it pretty unfulfillling.  Now part of that was health issues: I wasn't in shape to do much of anything.  But part of it was feeling useless because my job is the primary way that I contribute to my community and help people.     

tasimo

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I do like being a physician, and I think I'm a good one.  I legitimately save people from time to time and when those cases happen it fuels me for months.  It's a bit deep for the scope of this post, but there's a lot about medicine that drives me crazy and I come home angry more often than not.  I see worse patient care then a decade ago because of the inefficiencies and cost-cutting of the system, lack of access to care, scope creep among other hospital staff and private equity's fingers in everything.  All while my patients hate me for waiting 8 hours to be seen.  I say "i'm sorry" to patients for 100 things a shift that are really out of my control, and the bad things that happen are still my liability.  I'd love to continue to work and see patients, explain their care plan, and not spend most of my time documenting at length on a computer to check all the boxes so insurance actually reimburses, dealing with administrators unreasonable demands while they don't have a single shift with a full nursing/tech assignment, and medicolegal fear.   It feels like the stress and negativity is taking years off my life.

Are you a Primary Care Physician? I'm just asking because I, as a patient, have gone over to the Direct Primary Care model and like it much better. My doctor seems much happier and less stressed, too.

No, emergency medicine. We have the highest burnout rate, so more competition for nonclinical positions, and probably less telemedicine or concierge opportunity. Iím in a fairly large center, so do a fair amount of critical care and procedures, but would have less experience with screening and chronic hypertension/diabetes etc.

evme

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How did you end up with such a large position in crypto? Did you make some huge gains on it?

tasimo

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How did you end up with such a large position in crypto? Did you make some huge gains on it?

I had tried consulting with a blockchain based medical records system in 2017, that got me looking and investing pretty early. I sold 80-90% of it at much lower prices, and made some tax mistakes, learning valuable lessons about how brutal short term cap gains taxes can be on a very low basis asset.

duck-duck

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Are there an opportunities for administrative work within your group? Are you at a teaching facility or is there one nearby? Did you complete fellowship or have any special niche in EM (US, pain management, etc)? How about just going per diem? I even know of some colleagues that fly to work several days per month, paid for by their employer.

I work in EM as a PA at a teaching hospital and see a lot of the docs cut down to 0.8-0.5 FTE. Many have administrative roles within the residency. A few have side hustles, teaching or blogging about US topics. Another is an EMRAP contributor. Lots of opportunities in academic centers.

tasimo

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Are there an opportunities for administrative work within your group? Are you at a teaching facility or is there one nearby? Did you complete fellowship or have any special niche in EM (US, pain management, etc)? How about just going per diem? I even know of some colleagues that fly to work several days per month, paid for by their employer.

I work in EM as a PA at a teaching hospital and see a lot of the docs cut down to 0.8-0.5 FTE. Many have administrative roles within the residency. A few have side hustles, teaching or blogging about US topics. Another is an EMRAP contributor. Lots of opportunities in academic centers.

Yes, I'm in the process of some of this.  I've been out of academia for over a decade, I'm about 0.8FTE, but we're not structured quite the same way.   I lose a lot of benefits if I drop more, which is fine if i'm FIREing anyways, so maybe!  I've got some activity in physician FIRE groups as well that I've discussed more specific to field options.  It's a community hospital, but 120k+ visits per year busy sick population, lacking only cardiothoracic.  I haven't found I've enjoyed admin, and tend to sneak out of committees I get roped in on.  I was exclusively nights for years to avoid the administrators and tedium of commitees.  I give a few lectures per year but get nothing for it, and a thorough detailed 1-1.5h lecture takes a long time to prep.  I did not complete fellowships, and wouldn't survive the hours or paycut now.  I did always love toxicology, but didn't want another 2 years of my life indentured.  I used to be an US director for a group.  I dropped EMRAP a while ago; last I checked it very much focused on academic EM and is less practical in the community.  If I hear one more lecture on REBOA, something I'll never do in my life, my head will pop.